Friday, 30 January 2015

SuperBowl Ads and Going Back to the Future

As SuperBowl XLIX is fast approaching, the world’s most expensive and creative ads start coming to light as well. As outsiders to advertising, you’d just think they keep getting more and more creative every year, and if not creative, at least more and more crazy and attention grabbing. But a little blast from the past by BMW can really help everyone enjoy a time when we didn’t exactly understand all of our newest technologies in order to help explain their new automotive concept. And of course, there’s no better time of year to put a brand new idea out there than during the SuperBowl, when the most viewers from around the world tune in to watch American Football players create a piece of history of their own.

The video below is a quick look at how confused we really were by a new technology. How no one understood it, yet, today, we couldn’t live without it. This technique is known as creating familiarity. It's one step in a long line of things put in place to help create and display value in products for consumers. It is masterfully brilliant, comparing unfamiliarity with the internet in 1994 to unfamiliarity to renewable energy in cars in 2015.

By reminding everyone how it felt to be confused by something new, BMW created the gateway into encouraging consumers to try and understand their newest all-electric car. Some users are opposed to change, yet change still happens over time and is something we adapt to without realising which direction or stance we even came from in the first place. That’s exactly what BMW is portraying here. It may seem confusing now, but in 21 years, it will be something we can’t live without…and hey, it will be much better and safer for our environment, cities and health.

Another interesting concept that the ad more subtly displays is the amount of change both Katie Couric and Bryant Gymbel have gone through. Their vocabulary didn’t even include the word for the “@“ sign in 1994, and by the end of the future portion of the ad, Bryant asks Katie if she can twerk. Additionally, Katie went from asking her assistant Alison, off-stage, to look something up for her, to calling her on her cell phone from the car. These transformations really help viewers from any part of the USA and other parts of the world come together on and relate to our modernisations.

Well done BMW; SupwerBowl viewers will really enjoy the ad, because it won’t be like all the overplayed and repetitive ones. People will never get tired of being reminded of humanities’ accomplishments.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A New Era at Gucci – New CEO & Creative Director Lead Re-brand

In the fashion world change is always imminent, and on most occasions required, in order to set new trends, push editorial boundaries and keep a brand relevant. But what I’ve always found most interesting about the industry is how re-branding works in particular, in the sense that when a new designer takes over the role as Creative Director for a brand, they have an opportunity to tell new stories, to alter the vision of the brand and re-invent the pieces that the brand is well known for.

Frida Giannini and Patrizio di Marco (Source: Fastcodesign)

So in hearing that Gucci’s CEO, Patrizio di Marco, and Creative Director, Frida Giannini, were leaving the company, I couldn’t help but feel apprehensive about the future of the brand. A few years back a similar situation took place at Yves Saint Laurent (which has now been rebranded as Saint Laurent Paris), where new Creative Director Hedi Slimane took the opportunity to completely overhaul the stagnant fashion house. At the time, the changes were met with trepidation, but as a few seasons have gone by, many in the industry (myself included) have come to accept and understand the evolution of the brand into a more relevant and perhaps more contemporary offering. It still embodies the elements of luxury that Yves Saint Laurent became known for, but the tone and styling is much more attuned to the millennial customer than before. This is a move that clearly paid off, as within 18 months of the re-brand, the Huffington Post reported a 40% increase in the brand’s overall retail sales, and that many items had sold out within days of the new collections hitting stores.

So although we’ll have to wait and see whether a successful re-branding can be achieved at Gucci, it seems that things are off to a good start. Despite both figureheads departing the company much earlier than expected (most in the industry were under the impression that last week’s Mens collection and the impending Womenswear collection were to be Giannini’s last), Gucci was quick to announce Giannini’s successor, Alessandro Michele (former Head of Accessories), who reportedly reworked the entire mens collection within a span of just 5 days. The re-worked show was clearly a strategic effort on Michele’s part, as the company’s new CEO mentioned in an interview that ‘[Michele] and I are fully aligned on this new contemporary vision needed by the brand and we will be continuously inspired by that new identity in our respective roles and duties.’

Gucci’s New Creative Director, Alessandro Michele (Source: Wall Street Journal)

As I’ve spoken about in the past, the evolution of brands in the luxury sector often involves re-invention, from the clothes down to the brand story. By shifting the creative focus of a fashion brand, you have an opportunity to take a completely new direction, and like with Yves Saint Laurent, address a new customer set and point of view. Although there is always a risk of alienating existing customers and followers of the brand, most people in the industry understand the need for change, and like myself, anticipate it when a brand loses the level of awareness it once had.

I for one will be keeping a close eye on Gucci throughout 2015, and look forward to seeing the changes that the iconic brand will make to realise its new vision.

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 23 January 2015

Flashback to Personal Branding

As an up-and-coming marketer, I find this blog a very good place to reflect upon personal experiences - especially those which come from realising I am seeing things in a new way, thanks to my education and new skills from the Master of Marketing program. One such experience has come from Sydney’s real estate market and my search for the perfect new home.

That being said, I’ve come to modify my personal brand in a new way - a way in which it is purely seeming to be dependant upon the property’s personality, or the agent listed with the property. My personal brand has become a shape shifter, and I don’t think it should be. So, I think it’s time I looked back into the fundamentals of our personal brand as marketers.

First, we should be consistent. When working with a real estate agent, you would probably assume you have to frame yourself in a certain way to leave the best and most lasting impression. That may be the case - you could even leave your business card so they remember you when you’re calling back or having a second viewing. After all, you want to make the cut in preliminary applications and have a reference from the agent to the owners. With the property listed and seen below, there are probably hundreds of people in the Sydney area looking at this individual townhouse. And if you are professional, and come prepared with a completely filled application, you’ve probably made their life easier. But, do you fit the desired profile yet?

Second, your personal brand may be adaptable, but you may also need to get business done and move on to other things. Companies like Meriton are prepared for any and all profiles of tenants. Chances are your personal brand will even stay more in tact working with these agents because they just want the cold hard facts; can you afford it or not? This isn’t an instance where you have to market yourself, and it’s actually better because you’re not trying to be something or someone you’re not, simply to find a roof to put over your head.

Ultimately, the property search was strenuous. I thought behaving the way I usually do, being honest about my job, my academic history, and even my nationality, are more important than faking it until I make it. Some owners may think certain profiles aren’t trustworthy enough, but then how would students begin to market themselves and start building a rent history, if no one will give them a house? I guess, it’s all going to have to be trial and error, as long as your personal brand doesn't get taken down in the process.

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A Coup for Diversity – Tiffany & Co. Feature Same Sex Couple in New Ad


For an ad that has recently been on high rotation on the interwebs, it seems that Tiffany & Co. have hit the right mark by featuring a real same sex couple as part of their recent ad campaign for Tiffany engagement rings. Although it’s a little unfortunate that in this day and age we’re surprised when brands engage (pun fully intended) with the LGBT community (or any other minority), it’s still a moment worth celebrating - especially when it’s a first for the brand itself, as well as the overall fine jewellery industry.

Without segueing into a social equity discussion, I just wanted to visit a few points from a brand strategy angle that this ad brings to the table. The most obvious point to make here is that Tiffany & Co. are finally addressing an existing market niche. With marriage equality spreading through most nations, same sex couples, like everyone else, need engagement rings and are likely to purchase them from the iconic brand. By representing this market in a more visible manner, Tiffany & Co. are sending an overarching message of acceptance and inclusion – that their products are suitable for people from all walks of life, regardless of gender, race or sexuality. As mentioned by a Tiffany & Co. spokesperson, ‘Nowadays, the road to marriage is no longer linear, and true love can happen more than once with love stories coming in a variety of forms’. This is a powerful brand message, and one that is only made believable through an equally powerful visual campaign.

The second point worth mentioning is that from an internal marketing perspective, Tiffany & Co. are also addressing any pro LGBT employment policies that they may have in place. It’s one thing to say you don’t discriminate against the LGBT community, but to then represent them on this scale creates a cohesive brand message – one that employees are expected to internalise, and reflect in the way they treat each other and Tiffany & Co.’s customers. Although it goes without saying that same sex couples should receive the same level of service as other customers, the ad campaign works to further normalise the event of a same sex couple visiting Tiffany & Co. for engagement rings, or shopping together for any other jewellery item.

On a final note, I can’t not mention that a campaign such as this one was bound to create a bit of controversy and bring with it free press for the brand. Although I applaud the fact that Tiffany & Co. came up with this concept and executed it so perfectly, I do also hope that it wasn’t a flash in the pan, and is followed up by a consistent array of brand messaging and imagery that continues to engage with the LGBT community, and other minorities not adequately represented by brands in this industry.

To see the full campaign image, visit Tiffany & Co

Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Kingsman Collection – A Fashion & Film First

Official film merchandising is no new concept, and especially for films with pre-existing fan communities (think Twilight and Harry Potter), or the potential to create new ones (Frozen anyone?). However, the scale of these merchandising agreements is usually quite large, and results in items that are often affordable for the average filmgoer. For this reason alone, upon hearing that Mr Porter (brother of online retailer, Net-A-Porter) was co-producing a luxury menswear line with the costume designer from upcoming release, Kingsman: The Secret Service, I was genuinely surprised that such a collaboration was to take place.

For a little backstory on Mr Porter, the online retailer has been curating and selling high-end menswear items since 2011, and now stocks more than 200 of the world’s leading brands. In addition to this, it has a total of 1.6 million monthly unique visitors, and offers worldwide express shipping to 170 countries. Having ordered from this site on numerous occasions, I can personally vouch for the fact that it is without doubt the most premium online shopping experience a man can get, right down to the personalised ‘Mr Kumar’ printed stationary that arrived with my order.

So although I never doubted the Mr Porter side of this new collaboration, I was more intrigued as to the potential market for a luxury menswear line inspired by an essentially pop culture film. Admittedly, the attempt at such a collaboration has the danger of being ‘gimmicky’ (no matter what the price tag of the items), but where the strategy really seems to hold is that both parties have involved existing Saville Row designers to create custom pieces for the ‘Kingsman’ line. In doing so, not only does it add designer credibility to the collection, but it also becomes associated with brands that the existing Saville Row customer (who is most likely the target market of the collection) is already comfortable with.

Whether this collection has the potential to organically grow into a full-flegded menswear brand is still up in the air, but its an idea that is certainly a first for the luxury fashion industry, and thus may result in a new niche in this market. It’ll also be interesting to see how the Kingsman brand and movie individually perform, and whether the success of the movie translate into more sales and brand awareness for the menswear collection.

To read more about this collaboration visit Mr Porter’s website.

Salil Kumar

Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Blogger Engagement 101 – A Morning with Mulberry

With the rise of social media, there’s been an emergence of a new category of celebrity, also known as ‘bloggers’, or better yet, ‘digital influencers’. Part of what has made blogging such a success story is that there is a sense of authenticity that surrounds reading content written by someone who is genuinely passionate about the topic of conversation (whether it’s fashion, beauty, food or any other subject), and has a unique point of view to share. A space that was originally filled by magazines and traditional print media, blogging has provided a platform for individuals seeking to share personal experiences in a much less formal manner; not unlike how you would share a story with a close friend.

With fan followings that often surpass ‘offline’ celebrities, it was inevitable that brands would want to collaborate with bloggers, and co-create branded content. Although there isn’t a formula for curating the perfect blogger collaboration, there are a few things brands need to be aware of, and keep in mind when deciding to engage with bloggers.

The most commonly made mistake by brands is in selecting the wrong blogger to collaborate with. Although it may be tempting to work with someone with a large fan-following of their own, if the ethos of the blogger’s brand doesn’t match that of your own business, then it often results in content that reads as very contrived. Without naming names, this often occurs when brands pay bloggers to review products from a completely different industry (say paying a beauty blogger to review a set of high-tech headphones). In some contexts this may work, but in general it has the risk of tainting the authenticity of the blogger whom you’re working with, and leaving a questionable impression of your brand in the mind of the reader (i.e. making it very clear that you paid for this review).

I could go on and on about all the different ways that brands have unsuccessfully worked with bloggers in the past, but I really wanted to provide an example of a great blogger collaboration that was put together by the luxury British, brand Mulberry. The collaboration featured YouTube power couple Tanya Burr (a make-up artist and beauty blogger), and Jim Chapman (a men’s lifestyle blogger), who collectively have around 11 million followers across all their social media platforms. The collaboration consisted of a video, and photo-shoot following the couple’s daily life in London, and featured a set of Mulberry bags that they were photographed with.

The reason this collaboration works so well is that it features the bloggers in a very natural setting (their own home and neighbourhood) and integrates the brand seamlessly into their lives. As shown in the image below, you can clearly see both bloggers with Mulberry bags, but that isn't the entire focus of the shoot. Instead it portrays a momentary glimpse into how they use their Mulberry items on a day-to-day basis.

Jim Chapman & Tanya Burr in Mulberry (Source: Mulberry Website)

Other brands that have also curated great blogger collaborations include Burberry with their ‘Art of the Trench’ initiative, ASOS with their ‘Bloggers We Love’ section, as well as Nike, with the blogger collaborations surrounding the launch of their Nike ID service.

There is without a doubt great opportunities for all parties involved in collaborations such as the ones mentioned above, but once again it comes down to the strategy of selecting the right bloggers, featuring the brand in an authentic manner, and creating content that is genuinely engaging for your own target market, and that of the bloggers you are working with.

To read more information about the Mulberry collaboration in particular, visit
Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 2 January 2015

Fitness Centres Marketing for New Years Resolutions

Are you ready for your New Years resolution? I’m 99% sure it will probably have something to do with wanting to lose weight, or gain muscle/tone. That’s because that’s what we all say every new year - and it’s not such a terrible thing! Especially when our local fitness centres set us up with such good deals; how could you resist? In this case, it’s kind of like “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” in that you have to wonder, “which came first, the desire to lose weight, or the inspiration based on the advertisement.” Believe it or not, these type of marketing schemes came up in discussion in our Research and Decision Making course - along with similar topics of risk and reward.

Above is the current offer at Fitness First Australia. Of course they want you to get in the door at the beginning of the year. It will be so crowded - at least for the first two months before everyone gives up. But there’s a hidden topic of discussion here: how does the type of membership, incentive, or contract, affect our behaviour when it comes to fitness or going to the gym?

For most of us, we’ll probably get too busy finishing up work we take home with us, or chores around the house, or catching up with friends. That’s why those type of people would probably go for the month to month contract; this way, they won’t experience a sunk cost or any cognitive dissonance if they can’t make it all the time. Alternatively, these same people may even spend more to get the full year contract so that they have to consistently go to the gym to get their money’s worth. This indecision is exactly where the gym’s marketing efforts pay off.

So which plan is really better for you if you do decide to take the new years resolution plan? Well, Anytime Fitness Australia, as displayed above, compares their membership fees to other common daily expenditures on their website landing page. Here they added the extra effect of guilt tripping you into their reoccurring small fee membership type. Yes, it’s inexpensive. Yes, you should probably be going to the gym instead of buying coffee. And yes, you can afford it every month to keep going back because you’ll be so much happier if you do and you wouldn’t be wasting your money since it’s on your health. All of these thought statements pertain specifically back to experiencing sunk cost if you don’t go. Either way you’ll experience it. Either on your promise to yourself if you don’t get healthy because you didn’t have any obligation to keep going back, or on your money spent because you don’t use it as often as you intended to.

So before you make the decision, just know that marketers have already built pathways for your money around whichever type of behaviour you end up exhibiting. Once they’ve got you, they’ve got you for good. So even if you’re on a monthly pass, they will find some way to tell you exactly how well you’d do on your new year resolution if you get a friend to sign up too! How about some money off next month’s fees?

Christine Drpich
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School